By Francis Ogwo
The delay in the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill in the 20 years of its wait reportedly cost the Niger Delta over $10 billion.
This was disclosed by the chairman of Ijaw Community (19 Northern States and Abuja), Success Jack, on Monday.
Jack noted that although the 3 per cent equity sharing in the Petroleum Industry Act allocated to host communities was small, they would continue to push for better concession through further amendments in the National Assembly.
Speaking further, Jack called on all Niger Delta Governors and National Assembly members from the Niger Delta to “bond together, forge a united front, undertake vigorous political lobbying to help us attain the minimum 10 per cent required for host communities.”
Jack informed Niger Deltans demanding the crucifixion of the Minister of State (Petroleum Resources), Timipre Sylva, and the President Muhammadu Buhari that such demands, amendments and engagements should be through all conventional and legitimate means.
He said, “For those of our brothers and sisters in the Niger Delta that are demanding the prosecution of Sylva and the President, the PIB stayed in the National Assembly for about 20 years and each year, we lost an average of over $500 million, more than $10 billion.
“Can you quantify that in terms of development lost? Even if we want 10 per cent or 15 per cent, I’m positive about that but we should take what we can hold, and determine the pace of development from the grassroots in our communities so that we may be competing with London or New York in terms of development.
“The petroleum industry has floated over the decades without an overriding set of laws to govern its activities. So, the Niger Delta region and the country have lost a lot of investment. Our people from the host communities have also been shortchanged in different ways.
“The 3 per cent is grossly inadequate and is a far cry from what we want. But 3 per cent puts some considerable volumes of cash in our hands. This 3 per cent takes from source, it is part of the budget process of $17 billion annual oil and gas industry budget process.
“So, factoring the Niger Delta host communities into the direct source gives us a first line charge which has not been done before. Our matters have always been in secondary or tertiary consideration.
“For the first time, if there is going to be oil and gas exploration, that means our money is going to come without secondary approval.
“That means politicians cannot afford to joke with us, we don’t even need them again. Once the oil and gas industry is rolling, our development is rolling.”